Sources revealed that high-level security figures affiliated with the Syrian regime have been involved in protecting drug traffickers and large shipments moved by Hezbollah from Lebanon, so that they can be smuggled to Gulf countries.
Sources told The Syrian Observer that two drug dealers were arrested in Maarat Saidnaya in the countryside of Damascus, the first called Elias Makhoul al-Sheikh and the second by the name of Yamen Elias al-Sheikh. They were in possession of a large quantity of drugs, with an estimated value of about 2 million dollars.
The sources indicated that the Saidnaya branch that was headed towards Maarat Saidnaya arrested the two men, taking them to Damascus.
However, the two individuals were only held for four hours.
The sources added that after the arrival of the two men to Damascus, an unidentified official got in touch with the Director of the President’s Office, Ghassan Bilal. As a result, the two men were released after a period that did not exceed five hours, in exchange for a sum of money of 400$.
The sources mentioned details about the source of the drugs, which reportedly came from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia to dealers in Syria so that they could be smuggled through the Badia (Desert) region into Jordan or Iraq.
This isn’t the first incident where an affiliate of Hezbollah is accused of drug trafficking.
In 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department accused a Beirut-based bank of involvement in an international money-laundering and drug-trafficking operation with ties to the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
In June of this year, a report by the European law enforcement agency Europol warned that Hezbollah operatives were believed to be “trafficking diamonds and drugs” and laundering the proceeds, using European countries as a base.
According to The Washington Post, law enforcement officials have linked Hezbollah to a string of major drug seizures, in locations ranging from the empty desert along the Syria-Jordan border to urban centers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to central and southern Europe.
“Facing extreme financial pressures because of U.S. sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and Lebanon’s economic collapse, Hezbollah appears to be growing increasingly reliant on criminal enterprises, including drug smuggling, to finance its operations,” U.S. and Middle Eastern analysts reportedly told The Washington Post.